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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2740 ..

Unions have raised repeated concerns about the China Free Trade Agreement and are calling on the Abbott Government to finally come clean on the impact it will have on jobs and unemployment.

Mr Smyth quoted several times from Ged Kearney. Let me quote from the website what Ged Kearney said.

“The Abbott government needs to come clean on the impact the China Free Trade Agreement will have on unemployment and local jobs.

“Free trade agreements must support local jobs and industry and all indications are that the deal with China does not.

“There must be strong rules around labour market testing and labour mobility clauses in the China free trade deal to ensure local jobs are protected.

“Unemployment has been at or above 6 per cent for one year yet it appears the government is intent on selling out even more local jobs.”

Quite contrary to the motion that Mr Smyth has written, it is not about anti-Chinese at all. It is about jobs for Australia. And that is a reasonable campaign, I think, for a union to run. After all, unions and the labour movement are about workers, not about income for particular companies. Quite clearly the motion is worded incorrectly. It is not in relation to what the CFMEU are doing with their campaign. As I said, it is quite clear that Mr Smyth is suggesting it is an anti-China campaign by the CFMEU. The CFMEU and others are helping to raise industry awareness also of defective products.

I can advise that our recent building ministers forum in Melbourne indicated that, in relation to inferior products for the construction industry in Australia, it was very important that we look at what has occurred with recent imports, not just from China but from other countries as well, that are not fit for purpose. I can advise that at the forum that all states agreed to create a task force to look into these not fit for purpose materials, one of which was quite clearly demonstrated by a recent fire at a building in Victoria, in Melbourne, where a not fit for purpose cladding material was used on the side of a building and something like 15 storeys of fire raced up the side of the building, because of the improper use of the material, lit by cigarette butt. That and the Infinity wiring were the two key matters that were discussed at the building ministers forum most recently in Melbourne.

As I said, all states agreed to the task force. The task force will advise, after investigation, the way forward to look at not fit for purpose materials and materials that are imported into Australia that could be dangerous either on building sites or in residential areas as well.

Importantly, as I said at the beginning, it is not about an anti-China campaign by the CFMEU at all. It is an anti-federal government campaign about jobs for Australia. A recent news broadcast, on 24 June by the ABC, stated:

Voters in marginal seats across four states strongly oppose key aspects of Australia’s free trade agreement with China, according to an opinion poll.

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